A man who became a legend because a photograph he took became legendary passed away yesterday. From the NY Times obit:

Joseph John Rosenthal was born on Oct. 9, 1911, in Washington, the son of immigrants from Russia. He acquired his first camera at the age of 12 from a catalog, in exchange for cigar-store coupons. In 1930, a year after finishing high school, he was hired as an office boy by the Newspaper Enterprise Association, and two years later he became a reporter-photographer for The San Francisco News. At the time the United States entered World War II, Mr. Rosenthal was a photographer in the San Francisco bureau of The Associated Press.

After being declared 4-F by the armed forces because his eyesight was only one-twentieth of normal, Mr. Rosenthal joined the United States Maritime Service, taking photos of Atlantic Ocean convoys. In March 1944, he went to the Pacific on assignment by The A.P. and later photographed the invasions of New Guinea, Hollandia, Guam, Peleliu and Angaur.

On Feb. 19, 1945, Mr. Rosenthal accompanied the early waves of a 70,000-man Marine force ordered to seize Iwo Jima, a seven-and-a-half-square-mile spit of black volcanic sand 660 miles south of Tokyo. The island, defended by 21,000 Japanese troops, held airstrips that were needed as bases for American fighter planes and havens for crippled bombers returning to the Mariana Islands from missions over Japan.

Although they suffered heavy casualties, by the fifth day the Marines had silenced most opposition from Japanese soldiers dug into caves along the 546-foot-high Mount Suribachi — an extinct volcano — at Iwo Jima’s southern tip. At about 10:30 a.m., a group of Marines raised a 54-inch-by-28-inch American flag at the summit…

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